About one million people have already signed up for Affordable Care Act coverage on the federal exchange after President Joe Biden launched a special open enrollment period amid the coronavirus pandemic, CNN reports.
Former President Donald Trump refused to agree to a special enrollment period despite the pandemic but many Americans quickly jumped on the change when the new administration reversed course.
"That’s one million more Americans who now have the peace of mind that comes from having health insurance," Biden said in a statement.
"Since it became law more than a decade ago, the Affordable Care Act has been a lifeline for millions of Americans. The pandemic has demonstrated how badly it is needed, and how critical it is that we continue to improve upon it," he added. "Through this opportunity for special enrollment, we have made enormous progress in expanding access to health insurance."
The open enrollment period will stretch until August 15.
A key lifeline:
The federal exchange is usually open for enrollment for about six weeks at the end of each year.
Though those that lost their jobs were eligible to enroll in Affordable Care Act coverage, the new special enrollment period allows anyone to sign up for health coverage amid the pandemic.
The 14 states that run their own state exchanges have also reopened enrollment.
When including the new sign-ups on those exchanges, the number of Americans newly getting ACA coverage is about 1.5 million.
The administration hopes that number makes a dent in the uninsured rate, which rose under Trump after declining dramatically under Obama.
All ACA customers will now be eligible for boosted subsidies after Biden signed the American Rescue Plan this spring.
The two-year plan reduces monthly premiums by over 40% on average, from $100 per month to $57.
Those enrolled in the ACA will pay no more than 8.5% of their income for coverage, down from nearly 10%. Lower-income individuals get additional subsidies that may eliminate their premiums completely.
The law also raises the subsidy income cap to $51,000 for individuals and $104,800 for a family of four.
Biden has since introduced the American Families Plan, which would make the new subsidies permanent.